Esker is a global leader in information exchange service and for the provision of cloud-based automation of documents. Many organizations regardless of their size use this platform to process orders, automate accounts, automate accounts receivable, purchasing among many other services (Preciado & González 2013, p. 106). Esker’s solutions tend to be compatible with regulatory, geographic and technological environments enabling more than 11,000 companies across the globe to get these solutions easily. Esker was founded in 1985, and it operates in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America. The company’s global headquarters are in Lyon, France and Madison, Wisconsin in the United States of America. Two computer engineering graduates founded Esker with the aim of designing communications software applications for various companies. In 2016 Esker had total sales of 58.5 Million Euros. This paper will examine business to business marketing strategy in the product launch cycle of Esker Company.
Since the cost of entering into the market for software development was high in 1985-1991, Esker engaged in system integration services that generated to its income (Gebauer, Saul & Joncourt 2016, p. 195). As it engaged in these services, the company was able to develop a good foundation for its present product. This period enabled the company to develop significant experience in UNIX systems. During this phase the company only recorded €0.25million.Later in 1989, the company marketed Host Access software which gave the basis for the development of the company. As such the management of the company decided to position itself in the development of software products (Gebauer, Saul & Joncourt 2016, p. 195).
Product Development of Host Access
This phase was marked with aspirations to position Esker as a software developer in the global arena. It spanned from 1992-1998. As it marketed its applications through resellers and distributors, it was able to make acquisitions and make subsidiaries in major countries that were industrialized. This made the company move close to its clients and consequently increased its sales (Gebauer, Saul & Joncourt 2016, p. 195). Within this period it had been able to create subsidiaries in countries such as the United Kingdom, German, Spain, Australia, Italy, and Singapore.
External Growth Phase of the Product
So that Esker could diversify the portfolio of its products and strengthen its marketing strategies in America, it made major acquisitions. It acquired companies such as Presoft, Alcom, Teubner &Associates and VSI a California fax server expert (Turban, King, Lee, Liang & Turban 2015, p. 162). This period runs from 1998-2001 and as a result of acquisitions, the sales revenue in America increased from 15% to 53%.
In 2000, there was a decline of about 35% in the product line of Host Access, and the company decided to renew its offer. Additionally, the company wanted to reposition itself to align with the needs of 21st century. This repositioning was to be carried out during 2001-2003 by capitalizing on the expertise of the company on host access and fax server sectors. This led to the launching of DeliveryWare Platform product in 2001 (Son, Lee & Chang, 2014, p. 654). In the same period, Esker reduced the operating costs in the host access and fax sectors. It also updated the whole of the human organization so that the success of the new product could be ensured. The company sold Esker DeliveryWare to more than 500 companies by the end of 2003, and this represented about 15% of the sales of the company (Kaufman & Horton 2014, p. 103).
Product Development Dematerialization Phase
The introduction of the new products started offsetting the decrease in host access. Esker on Demand was also launched which enabled businesses to externalize emails using DeliveryWare. It also helped externalize fax reception and emission. This helped the company dematerialize release of the products and provided the company with recurring revenues. Currently, 62% of the sales from Esker are from the Software products with the remainder coming from services such as training, installation, outsourced mailings and transport re-invoicing among many other services (Son, Lee & Chang, 2014, p. 654). These products include DeliveryWare, Fax Server, and Host Access Solution.
How Esker Manages its Brand Equity
Esker has been able to build its brand through effective product promotion and marketing strategies as well as engaging in research and development to improve its products. On product promotion the company has been using specialized software resellers, management software package integrators and IT distributors in distributing, storing and selling of software products to customers across the globe (Son, Lee & Chang, 2014, p. 654). Additionally, the company has come up with a schematic policy that creates subsidiaries in developed countries as a way of projecting its brand image across the globe. The company is also investing heavily in knowledge and expertise of its workers such as technical consultants, sales engineers, technical support and sales representatives. Research and development are based on the needs of the user and monitoring activities of the company. These strategies are in an endeavor to creating a strong brand for the company that will enable it to compete against its rivals such as IBM (Turban, King, Lee, Liang & Turban 2015, p. 162).
How Esker Designs its Brand Strategy
Given the fact that the company has a number of diverse technologies that Esker works with, the company has found it appropriate to provide information on DeliveryWare, Fax Server, and Host Access technologies. It has several strategies for each of these categories.
The market for this category is still emerging and represents a market with few research firms. Electronic delivery of documents is still based on some un-integrated platforms that only accommodate single channels such as fax and traditional printing (Kaufman & Horton 2014, p. 103). However, it is now utilizing studies and research from certain firms such as Gartner and IDC to utilize the opportunities that the market for DeliveryWare represents. This research is enabling this technology to grow tremendously.
This category presents a potential growth for Esker. Fax servers are used as e-commerce products that serve to circulate information and documents from the computer system to the outside of the organization. To respond to this need effectively, Esker runs its fax servers on Linux (Kaufman & Horton 2014, p. 103). This is making fax server solutions provided by Esker efficient and undoubtedly competitive.
After the company noted a decline in this category in 2000, it designed new strategies to counter this scenario. By 2000, this product line had declined by 35% and Esker came up with DeliveryWare. It also reduced significantly the expenses involved in this sector. By the year 2014 onwards, there have been positive results from this category and a research firm IDC has approximated an annual growth of 1.4% from this sector (Kaufman & Horton 2014, p. 103).
Core Positioning and Brand Elements of Esker
Esker has been able to position itself on DeliveryWare, Host Access, and Fax Server solutions. Many organizations can leverage Esker on Demand given its unique ability. These elements of the Esker products include the following:
The first element includes the ability to automate any company document process as required through one platform. The shared group of users and technologies for Esker can automate the order processing, purchasing accounts, and accounts receivable without having separate components that are costly.
Second, the ability to complement any existing application of the business. Most of the workflow functions of Esker operate independently of desktop systems or ERP system (Stieninger & Nedbal 2014, p. 66). Therefore it eliminates additional software or hardware requirements. It also improves on flexibility for different volumes of documents.
Third, the ability to optimize visibility and collaboration. The products of Esker have built-in dashboards to enable a user to view and respond to real-time company metrics from an interface that is customized. Other features such as mobile approval online portals for customers and suppliers are important in maximizing efficiency and self-service in all aspects of processing document (Stieninger & Nedbal 2014, p. 66)
Fourth, the ability to access core functions on the go. Esker Anywhere is a mobile application that enables managers to review or approve or reject purchases and supplier’s invoices while they are not in the office. It also helps businesses in speeding up the approval and review of the process of processing invoice and improving the efficiency in the purchase-to-pay cycle (Stieninger & Nedbal 2014, p. 66).
From the marketing analysis of Esker, several threads run through its business to business marketing strategies. The organization has heavily invested in product development as represented in the discussion. This explains the reason why its products remain competitive in the market despite the fact that it receives competition from companies such as IBM, WRQ, and NetManage among many others. The company is also able to build a strong brand that has unique features which make it outsmart its rivals in the market. Consequently, the company has been able to offer tremendous value to their customers, maintaining data confidentiality and improving management of information.
Gebauer, H., Saul, C. and Joncourt, S., 2016. Use-oriented product service systems in the early industry life cycle. Ekonomiaz: Revista vasca de economía, (89), pp.194-223.
Kaufman, I. and Horton, C., 2014. Digital Marketing: Integrating Strategy and Tactics with Values, A Guidebook for Executives, Managers, and Students. Routledge, pp. 94-109.
Son, I., Lee, D., Lee, J.N. and Chang, Y.B., 2014. Market perception on cloud computing initiatives in organizations: An extended resource-based view. Information & Management, 51(6), pp.653-669.
Stieninger, M. and Nedbal, D., 2014. Characteristics of cloud computing in the business context: A systematic literature review. Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management, 15(1), pp.59-68.
Turban, E., King, D., Lee, J.K., Liang, T.P. and Turban, D.C., 2015. Business-to-business E-commerce. In Electronic Commerce (pp. 161-207). Springer International Publishing.
Trigueros-Preciado, S., Pérez-González, D. and Solana-González, P., 2013. Cloud computing in industrial SMEs: identification of the barriers to its adoption and effects of its application. Electronic Markets, 23(2), pp.105-114.
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